You’ve probably heard of Dry January, but have you heard of Sober September? Both challenges encourage people to stop drinking for the entire month. Dry January makes sense given the whole mantra of, “New year, new you.” Thousands set a New Year’s Resolution to cut back on drinking. An engaging, catchy challenge like Dry January is the perfect way to do it.
Monthly challenges aren’t new, especially in the age of social media. They offer people a way to connect over common interests and goals. The new “sober curious” trend, a phrase created by Ruby Warrington, has people taking a second look at their alcohol intake. Sober seems to be the new buzz and Sober September is another example of that.
Where did Sober September come from, though? While January aligns with the New Year’s Resolution crowd, what drew people to the idea of staying sober for September?
What is Sober September?
Sober September is a month-long challenge that encourages participants to spend all 30 days alcohol-free. Dry January’s history is a bit more clear but the exact origins of Sober September are a little fuzzy.
A quick Google search reveals dozens of blog posts detailing various individuals’ sobriety escapades during September. Pastel-themed posts dive into the benefits they noticed after taking a break from drinking for the month.
An article posted by the Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network in 2014 suggests Sober September first took place in 2004. A student-run nonprofit started the event with a small group of about 200 participants. They continued holding the challenge every year and then moved it onto Facebook in 2010.
Cancer Research UK is another organization credited with starting a Sober September campaign in 2016. From there the event spread. Then the sober curious movement took off and brought both Dry January and Sober September along for the ride.
The Benefits of Sobriety for a Month
Millions of Americans drink alcohol regularly. More than 50% drank at least once in the last month, according to survey data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alcohol is seamlessly weaved into society from nights out with friends to gatherings with family.
What’s especially alarming is the extent of binge drinking. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to the legal limit of 0.08%. The same study revealed that nearly 1 in 4 people binge drank at least once in the last month. These drinking behaviors are not only dangerous but also far too common.
Even for people who don’t have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), cutting back can lead to some positive changes. Taking a step back from drinking for even a month comes with some incredible benefits. Research from the University of Sussex revealed that taking a month off drinking resulted in more energy, better sleep, clearer skin, and weight loss.
That makes a month away from alcohol sound pretty appealing.
Should You Participate in Sober September?
If you’re wondering whether Sober September is for you, give it a try! Do you realize how much you drink? It’s easy to get into the habit of social drinking without thinking about the amount you consume.
Cutting alcohol out for a month offers some perspective on current drinking behaviors. As Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, explains, “These months are good and healthy to do, if not only for the reason that they bring back into the forefront of our consciousness how we consume alcohol and force us to take stock of this.”
Sober September is a great idea. The month is a great time to take a step back from alcohol, anyways. Summers typically lead to an increase in drinking patterns. The unexpected circumstances of 2020, however, have caused drinking rates to rise even more than usual. Sober September could be a great way for you to push the reset button.
Are you concerned about your current drinking behaviors? Have you noticed an uptick in the amount of alcohol you drink? You’re not alone if you’re wondering whether you have a few too many, especially given the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You have nothing to lose by giving the monthly challenge a try. It can help you get an idea of how much you’re drinking currently and whether it’s truly beneficial for you. Sober September allows you to adjust your alcohol intake as you head into the holiday season.